NASA Unveils $23 Million Research Facility Named in Honor of Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson

NASA just unveiled their new research facility named in honor of mathematician Katherine Johnson. The $23 million 37,000 square-foot research facility, named Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, was revealed to the public in a dedication ceremony in Hampton, Virginia on September 22.

Johnson was in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Alongside of her and in support of the intellectual innovator was her friends and members of her family, as well as students from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Black Girls Who Code. “I always like something new,” Johnson said about the honor. “It gives credit to everybody who helped.”

The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility not only bears the great’s name, it also happens to be where Johnson worked at NASA for all those years, from 1953 at the time of her hiring, all the way until 1986 when Johnson retired. Additionally, the state of the art facility syndicates four Langley Research Center data centers and “incorporates energy-saving features” – a move that is expected to increase overall efficiency by 33 percent – per a news release.

“We’re here to honor the legacy of one of the most admired and inspirational people ever associated with NASA,” Langley Director David Bowles said. “I can’t imagine a better tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s character and accomplishments than this building that will bear her name.”

Johnson, 99, is perhaps best known because of Hidden Figures, where she was portrayed by Empire actress Taraji P. Henson. In reality, the mathematician is responsible for so much more. Dubbed “the human computer,” Johnson was responsible for making significant contributions to the aeronautics and space programs thanks to early application of digital electronic computers at the United States’ NASA. Johnson was heralded for her precision in computerized celestial navigation.

In addition to being honored with a state of the art research facility bearing her name, Johnson has garnered a bevy of accolades from her contributions to the world. In 2015, former President Barack Obama honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Photo Credit: David C. Bowman/NASA

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.